The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Mike Motz
Sports Writer 

Warriors Record First Season Loss 14-12


September 22, 2022 | View PDF

Leyton’s Warrior Football team suffered their first loss of the season Friday afternoon to the Anselmo-Merna Coyotes, 14-to-12.

The difference in points came from the Coyotes converting one extra point attempt for two points, while both Warrior touchdown extra point attempts failed. But other than points, the real difference in play was a Coyote team that was able to mix up schemes and stop the Leyton running attack on defense, forcing the Warriors to attempt more passes than usual and go away from their running attack that had been so successful in their first three games of the season.

The Coyotes came into the contest with a 1-and-2 record, with their two losses coming in a shutout and an effort that had their offense score just six points. But the Coyotes seemed more fired up at the start of the game than the Leyton team that seemed to lack energy.

Anselmo-Merna received the opening kickoff, and after gaining a first down with a few runs, fumbled the ball away to Leyton.

The Warriors were unable to break through the Coyotes’ defense, and turned the ball over on downs. The Coyotes took over, and similarly turned the ball over on downs on their offensive series. After a mishit punt by Leyton senior Damyn Russ, the Coyotes were able to drive close to the Leyton end zone, but again fumbled. Leyton could not do much on their ensuing drive and punted the ball back.

The teams were both ineffective on offense to start the game, until with about five minutes left in the second quarter, Leyton’s Damyn Russ connected with senior Justin Ernest on a swing pass that Ernest took down the sideline, outrunning the Coyotes’ defense, for a long touchdown.

The Warriors tried for a two-point conversion, but failed and held a 6-to-0 lead. The Leyton defense then held the Coyotes on offense, forcing a punt which put the Warriors deep in their own territory. Anselmo-Merna got a big break when Russ was pressured in the end zone and fumbled the ball out of bounds, giving the ball to the Coyotes on a touchback.

The Coyotes then were pushed back by penalties, but junior quarterback Quinten Myers found Collin Cooksley alone in the end zone and connected for a touchdown strike. The Coyotes also failed to score on the extra point, and the game was knotted at 6-to-6 with about one minute left in the half. The first half had both offenses struggling to find any rhythm, while the defenses excelled. The Coyotes’ defense did a great job in closing holes and pursuing the ball.

Leyton opened the second half with the ball, and started on their own 29 yard line. On third down with three receivers on the left side, Russ tossed a screen pass to Ernest, and he again was able to break through the Coyotes’ defense and take the ball all the way for a touchdown.

Again, Leyton failed to convert the extra point, and went ahead 12-to-6. Anselmo-Merna used a heavy dose of Quinten Myers running the ball, and marched down to the Leyton three yard line.

Myers then ran up the middle for the touchdown, and the Coyotes were able to convert for two points after the touchdown, giving them a 14-to-12 lead.

Leyton was then ineffective trying to move the ball, and a stiff breeze kept the punt from traveling far, and Anselmo-Merna again started with good field position.

The Coyotes were also ineffective driving the ball, and gave it back to Leyton. Both offenses played poorly for the rest of the contest, with penalties and fumbles stopping any progress.

Leyton had opportunities to score in the third quarter, with good field position but a tricky wind had picked up, disrupting passes and stopping their drives. Finally, with time winding down in the fourth quarter, the Warriors missed on a third down pass when Ernest was wide open.

On fourth down, Russ tossed a perfect pass with the wind at his back down the middle of the field, and Ernest was open in the end zone. But the pass was just a little bit too long for Ernest to haul in, and it bounced off his hands incomplete. Anselmo-Merna took over and was able to run out the clock to seal the victory.

After rushing for 296, 251 and 192 yards in their first three games, the Warriors were held to just 17 rushing attempts and barely gained any yards. Russ threw for 160 yards, completing 8-of-21 passes and Ernest caught two touchdowns. But the Warriors could not stop Myers when they needed to, and the junior quarterback rushed for 114 yards on 27 carries, and tossed a 23 yard touchdown pass to Collin Cooksley.

Leyton looks to bounce back from the loss as they travel to Arnold to match up against South Loup on Friday, September 23 at 2 p.m.


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